ERIC Number: ED203337
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Early Social Documentary Photography: The Photographs of "Charities," 1897-1909.
Bethune, Beverly M.
The preliminary development of social documentary photography can be traced in the early issues of "Charities," a journal established in 1897 by the New York Charity Organization Society. During the journal's earliest years, 1897 to 1902, photography was already associated with social work in the minds of the public; but "Charities" used photographs infrequently, photographic layout was haphazard, and photographers were not given creditlines. In the period of 1902-1907, there was an increased use of photographs--occasionally on the front page--but creditlines for photographs were still rare. Improvements in the photojournalism presented by "Charities" during this period included longer cutlines to explain the portrayed conditions in the photographs, more experimentation with layout, and the appearance in the journal of its first photo-essay. From 1907 to 1909, "Charities" was given new purpose and direction with its reports of a study of social conditions in Pittsburgh. The photographs that accompanied these reports were persuasive and investigative in their style and presentation. Throughout the 12 years under examination, the primary purposes of the photographs in "Charities" were to illustrate the words of the text, not to stand alone, and to emphasize the environment of the individuals photographed, not the individuals themselves. The study of these photographs also indicates that "Charities" and its readers had faith in the reality of the photographs, trusted photographers not to tamper with their subjects, and expected honesty in social documentary photography. (RL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - General; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Photojournalism; Progressive Era
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (64th, East Lansing, MI, August 8-11, 1981).